Lyrically, much like Taylor Swift’s Reputation, Kesha’s Rainbow is an affirmation of self-worth. It’s an artist telling herself she’s worth a damn. The difference is that Swift achieves this through ruthlessness in her dealings with others and proudly not giving a shit what people think. The problem with ruthless people that don’t care about what others think is that they’re dicks who fuck over the wrong people along with right people. Kesha, however, has identified the people who were bad for her self esteem (and so will you with 5 minutes spare time and google) but that the quickest road to recovery is looking inwards. It’s been a shitty few years for her and Rainbow is the sound of someone having fun again. Its positivity is qualified by an acceptance of struggle.
Glorious noise from one half of Fuck Buttons. World Eater is a mix of industrial assault, soaring arpeggios, ambient sounds, and terrifying distorted vocal samples that builds layer upon layer and is engaging throughout. I would say I was left open-mouthed by this album, but since my natural gormlessness ensures this state, I’m lost for an adequate illustration. Suffice to say, there’s a lot going on here, it’s done brilliantly and defies pigeonholing. It’s like the soundtrack to an abstract horror film set in a nasty nightclub. A film where you have no idea what the plot is doing but leaves you thoroughly unsettled.
Villains met a lukewarm reception on release but it’s easily their best record since Songs for the Deaf. It might not have the portentous sound of Like Clockwork but whereas that album sounded like old men who had found a nice groove, Villains sounds like it could have been made by the guys who made Rated R. What Mark Ronson’s production loses in weight, it makes up for clarity. He’s the right man for the Queen’s record and it’s 1970s camp greaser-musical strutting.
LC! have struggled to find their voice over their last two albums. After being largely defined by the youthful energy of their first releases, their music took a bleaker turn. Lyrically they’ve always been interesting with their warts and all tales of young love and loss but their divisive quirky/irksome super-indie pop sound made way for a necessary but less engaging ‘maturity’. On Sick Scenes they found their sound - energetic in places, contemplative in others but always holding a wonderfully unflattering mirror to Gareth’s relationships.
It’s been lovely seeing KLO’s reputation elevating through the end of year polls. Made with Daniel Avery’s analogue synths, Kelly has made something more than the sum of its dream pop and techno parts. A perfect album for the winter, snuggle into the bleepy blanket and enjoy. The brilliant fan-made Throwing Lines video says it all with its two fans dancing in the Nordic landscapes. These guys get it.
Is anyone still paying attention to this sort of stuff? Perhaps it’s for the best that the arse has fallen out of the beards n banjos scene but Sam Beam has inconveniently released one of his best. Gone is the misguided move in the centre ground on his Ghost on Ghost as he goes back to the stripped back sound of acoustic guitars and reflective lyrics. So in summary, artist should stop pushing their sound forward. Sorry Sam.
Elbow have a hell of a groove on this album. Most the songs are just shuffling rhythms while Guy Garvey just does his thing over the top. His voice has never been in better form. There aren’t any BIG songs like On a Day Like This but I always felt they were flying too close to the Verve flame with that sound. This far into a career, Elbow have crafted their best set of songs and trimmed off all the fat.
When I saw them at Download, I was an immediate convert. Lyrically direct without sounding empty like Slaves, Bristol’s Idles’ take on punk noise sits somewhere between the sneering of Sleaford Mods, the pop-nous of Art Brut and the tightness of Future of the Left. If I was 16, I would be following Idles round the country.
More evidence of my popcentric midlife crisis. Paramore have become a bonafide pop band rather than a gateway rock band for tweenies. Their masterstroke here is that the lyrics are still angsty but against a backdrop of catchy hooks, and slick production they don’t sound too self-regarding. I guess this is how they always sounded to my daughter who I took to see them 9 years ago but I’m a sucker for upbeat melodies and downbeat words.